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Iago the Ultimate Villain

By DoctahHandsome Jan 03, 2010 1170 Words
William Shakespeare, the creator of the classic novel Othello, has portrayed the very popular character Iago in such a way that allows readers of all levels to get a fairly common analysis. The conventional interpretation of Shakespeare's Othello consists of the understanding that Othello’s naivety was ultimately the cause of Shakespeare’s signature tragic ending. However, Iago clearly had the most injurious impact on Othello’s transition from being a strong independent man of high credentials and highly respected virtue, to a feeble man of little confidence and susceptible to being scammed or hoodwinked by the other characters in the story. The most universal interpretation of Iago’s character is that he Iago is a mischievous individual. Iago is indeed the ultimate villain.

Villains often oppose expressing their true emotions to the people in the environment surroundingthem because they interpret it as a sign of weakness. Iago has shown that he is indeed the ultimate villain because he combined his knowledge of a human’s emotional reactions to certain situations, with his villainous nature to create a society in which he basically controlled the other characters’ actions. Within Iago’s soliloquy, he reveals his nefarious intentions to Roderigo (Shakespeare 57-65). Iago admits that he follows Othello not to envy him as a person nor to fulfill a specific obligation, but to exploit Othello’s many timidities and to “serve his turn upon him” (Shakespeare 9). Iago’s quote foreshadows an attempt to commit an act of revenge upon Othello, the man Iago suspects of having an affair with his wife, Emilia. Due to Iago’s fear of becoming vulnerable, Iago is more comfortable with keeping his emotions bottled up until they are converted into an obsession with revenge. “I will wear my heart upon my sleeve / For daws to peck at…” (Shakespeare 69). Iago understands that Othello’s insecurities can drive him to lose control of his emotions and might cause him to do irrational things. Iago pits Othello against Desdemona by planting seeds of doubt in Othello’s mind that Desdemona was having an affair with Cassio (Shakespeare 117). Iago then sets up a situation where Desdemona will provide Cassio with Othello’s handkerchief, which makes Desdemona and Cassio’s relationship appear to be more suspicious than it is in actuality (Shakespeare 145-148). Iago indirectly validated his claim of an affair between Desdemona and Cassio, from Othello’s point of view by providing false but ocular proof that Desdemona and Cassio’s relationship consisted of something more than he was aware of. Iago, the ultimate villain, sealed Desdemona’s fate with this incident and at the same time he tarnished the reputations of two people Othello trusted most. Iago single-handedly caused a transformation of Othello’s character by pitting the people he trusted most against each other but most importantly they were deemed untrustworthy in Othello’s eyes.

Iago is indeed the ultimate villain in Shakespeare’sOthello. As the story continues, it becomes further comprehensible that Iago’s motives are based upon his greed and jealousy towards Othello and his material possessions as well as his reputation. Throughout the play Iago manipulates Othello into thinking that Desdemona, who is his wife, is having an affair with lieutenant Cassio. Iago’s resentment of Cassio serves as Iago’s motivation to commit these acts of treason against Cassio because Othello appointed Cassio as his lieutenant. In Act III: Scene III, Othello and Iago says “hah? I like not that” Iago says “seeing you coming” this makes Othello suspicious of Desdemona and Cassio (Shakespeare 76). Iago is often displayed as a man of great wit, because he uses irony to plant the seeds of mischief in Othello’s mind, but at the same time he is increasing his credibility from Othello’s perspective. Iago says to Othello “she did deceive her father…” (Shakespeare 76). In this quote, Iago is saying she could deceive anyone else, and this includes Othello. Iago causes Othello to question Desdemona’s trustworthiness. In Othello’s next quote you see evidence of Iago’s manipulative tactics beginning to take effect on Othello. Othello says “O a, bound to thee forever...” (Shakespeare 78). Iago says “I see y’are moved” (Shakespeare 78) Iago is asking Othello if he trusts his word to be true, and wants him to say that he does believe his word is credible. Othello calls Iago “this honest creature,” (Shakespeare 80) this reveals some of the unrevealed irony within the play. This quote also reveals that Othello is being honest, because he sincerely believes Iago has no intentions of causing him any harm. Whereas Iago’s primary focus is to cause Othello harm. Author Jay Handelman of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune asserts the idea that Iago is indeed the ultimate villain, published “A matter of trust ... and revenge,” an article in compliance with Iago’s role as the ultimate villain. Handelman states “Iago is a relentless and witty villain…” Iago ultimately causes the deaths of Othello, Desdemona, and himself. Killing Othello and Desdemona alone, would not have quenched his thirst for evil, he had to destroy the lives of his victims before he killed them (Handelman 1).

In agreement with the idea of Iago being the
ultimate villain, Samantha Markham of Suite101.com Inc., wrote the article “The Brilliant Villain of Othello,” which states that Iago’s talent for manipulating people makes him a villain. Iago has this exceptional talent for analyzing a character and maximizing their negligible insecurities, while using them to tarnish their reputations and inevitably break down their character. “He has to be the most articulate, because it is his power of persuasion that allows Othello to be taken in by his lies and manipulation…” (Markham 1). With this statement from Markham’s second article analyzing Iago, “The Moor of Venice,” Markham clearly reiterates the fact that Iago’s ability to manipulate people is injurious to the lifespan of the additional characters. She praises Iago’s erudite skills for deception and his ability to flawlessly maintain the trust of the characters he is manipulates (Markham 1).

As supported by critical analyses from S.
Markham of Suite101 Inc., R. Moore of Enotes.com Inc., J. Handelman of The Saratoga Herald-Tribune, and Shakespeare’s original novel,Othello, Iago is the ultimate villain. Throughout the novel, Iago manipulates all of the supportive characters and in due course causes them to eradicate one another. Handelman and Markham’s articles prove that Iago’s villainous behavior has an injurious affect on the existence of the eminent characters in the story. Moore’s analysis focused more on the diversity of methods Iago used to manipulate the other characters. Moore showed that Iago is a character of high intelligence because he preys on Othello’s insecurities, and poisons the image of an innocent and loyal Desdemona in the eyes of her husband Othello. In support of my thesis, critical analysts of Iago’s character verify that, Iago is indeed the ultimate villain.

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